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story.lead_photo.caption This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). (CDC via AP, file photo)

EDITOR'S NOTE: As a service to our readers, The Sentinel-Record publishes updates released by the city of Hot Springs and the state of Arkansas.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson held his first weekly press briefing Tuesday at the Capitol. Another briefing is planned today in Batesville. The following stats were posted Tuesday on the Arkansas Department of Health website:

• 70,125 cumulative confirmed cases, up 676 from Monday.

• 586.29 rolling seven day average of new confirmed cases, up 54.58 from Monday.

• 870,884 PCR test reports, up 35,549 from Monday.

• 8.1% cumulative PCR infection rate, down from 8.3% Monday.

• 1,232 cumulative probable cases, up 54 from Monday.

• 18.7% cumulative antigen infection rate, up from 18.6% Monday.

• 6,001 confirmed and probable active cases, down 29 from Monday.

• 64,342 recoveries of confirmed and probable cases, up 741 from Monday.

• 389 hospitalizations, up 12 from Monday.

• 1,003 confirmed deaths, up 11 from Monday.

• 68 cases on a ventilator, down eight from Monday.

• 1,645 cumulative confirmed cases in Garland County, up 22 from Monday.

• 15.42 rolling seven-day average of new confirmed cases, up 2.56 from Monday.

• 25,671 PCR test reports for Garland County, up 410 from Monday.

• 22,985 private lab reports, up 159 from Monday.

• 2,686 public lab reports, up 251 from Monday.

• 6.4% cumulative PCR infection rate, up from 6.3% Monday.

• 127 active confirmed cases in Garland County, down three from Monday.

• 1,478 confirmed recoveries in Garland County, up 22 from Monday.

• 40 confirmed deaths in Garland County, up three from Monday.

The Health Department said in addition to the more than 1,000 confirmed COVID-19 deaths, the state's death toll included 139 probable deaths.

Hutchinson said recently promulgated federal reporting guidelines require the state to report probable deaths, which occur when the deceased has had a positive antigen test or the death certificate lists COVID-19 as an underlying or contributing cause of death that hasn't been confirmed by a polymerase chain reaction test.

The Health Department said most of the probable deaths are in the death certificate category. Reported confirmed deaths have more than doubled since the start of August. Garland County's confirmed deaths have quadrupled over that time. Dr. Gene Shelby, the county's health officer, told the task force organizing the local pandemic response that the county has averaged five deaths per week in the last month.

"I don't have any sense they're accelerating," Hutchinson said of statewide deaths. "What's been a little bit of the frustrating part is we're adding deaths that should've been accounted for in June, July or two weeks ago, so that's throwing off our daily numbers. I'm frustrated by the system that has been changed by the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) as to how you count these, but we're trying to be very transparent."

The Health Department said its tracking of deaths by date of death hasn't shown an exponential growth rate.

Hutchinson said he was pleased with Monday's educational setting report, which listed 574 active student and staff cases in public school districts. Thirty-nine have had to modify their on-site learning plans, the Education Department said.

"That's less than two-tenths of a percent in terms of cases in our schools," he said, referring to the number of active student and staff cases as a percentage of statewide enrollment. "That's a really good start. It shows they're really following the guidelines and working hard to have a successful year."

The Hot Springs and Lake Hamilton school districts were listed on Monday's report of educational settings with five or more active student and staff cases. The report listed nine active cases at Hot Springs and 18 cumulative since June 15. The district's website listed six active cases Tuesday.

The state report listed six active cases at Lake Hamilton and 30 cumulative since June 15. Lake Hamilton's website listed no new cases Tuesday.

Hutchinson said the 12,000 test kits the state received for its 200 antigen test machines amount to a two-month supply. School districts and institutions of higher learning will have first priority for the kits.

The Garland County Health Unit, 1425 Malvern Ave., has one of the 37 antigen testing machines the state has provided to the Health Department's more than 70 local health units. The county health unit told the local task force Monday that it had three test kits.

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